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Slash tax for high earners, suggests Owen Paterson

By James Tapsfield

Taxes for higher earners should be slashed and the Department for International Development abolished to turn Britain's fortunes around, former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Owen Paterson has said.

He insisted income tax, stamp duty and inheritance tax were out of control and having a "dampening effect" on the UK's wealth creators.

The former Environment Secretary also suggested public spending could be cut by up to £170bn - saying the Tories should not shy away from "getting rid of" Government departments. The comments came in a speech to launch his new think-tank, UK 2020.

Mr Paterson - who lost his Cabinet job in the summer reshuffle - said history showed that "if you reduce taxes, you grow the economy".

"As it is, we are seeing a narrowing of the tax base and, with it, an increased tax burden upon those who we really want to encourage to create wealth," he said.

"The accumulation of income tax, stamp duty and inheritance tax, before even adding VAT, council tax and energy subsidies on a utilities bill have a compounding, dampening effect on people."

Mr Paterson said headline tax rates did not give the whole picture, as they did not include national insurance payments in the calculations.

He said that while only one in 20 people paid the 40% higher rate in 1980, those earning over the threshold of £41,450 now was more like one in six.

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